Things turn ugly for BT broadband box

8:26am Friday 16th May 2014

IT appeared like a green Tardis on the streets of Romsey and it’s caused a storm of protests.

British Telecom has plonked a large cabinet containing a superfast broadband equipment cabinet in the middle of a pavement in Romsey’s conservation area.

Town and borough councillors are furious that they were not consulted about plans to site the 5ft tall metal box near the bike racks and postbox by the Tavern Inn.

Romsey Abbey ward member, Clive Collier, commented: “It’s an eyesore and shouldn’t be in such a prominent position in a conservation area.

“It’s deplorable that BT has shown so little concern for such a sensitive area when there are more appropriate locations available nearby.”

Mr Collier said he was disappointed that he had received no advice or information from planning officers at Test Valley Borough Council, who have been aware of the cabinet’s impending arrival since February.

A Test Valley Borough Council spokesman said BT had installed the cabinet “under permitted development rights” and didn’t need planning permission.

However, he added: “We are writing to the suppliers of the broadband apparatus to invite them to investigate, with the council, any possible alternative position for the cabinet.” Nick Hatchley, of Pebble Graphics, who is leading the fight to get the offending cabinet relocated in either Latimer Street or Love Lane, said he couldn’t believe it when he spotted the structure being installed.

“It’s more street clutter in the conservation area. We might need the cabinet, but not where it is. The general consensus in the town is it’s in the wrong location. Personally, I’d like to see it moved to a more discreet position in Love Lane, or near the fence alongside the Tavern in Latimer Street,” he told the Advertiser.

The positioning of the cabinet has also come under fire from Romsey’s town centre manager Mark Edgerley.

“The BT cabinet is the right equipment in the wrong place. I welcome the improvements to local internet connections and speed that will come when this equipment is commissioned but for life of me cannot understand how anyone involved in placing this cabinet in the middle of The Hundred paved area should consider this is the appropriate location for a very large green box,” he said.

He added that it was the town council’s aim to reduce street clutter.

Even, Romsey’s MP Caroline Nokes has stepped into the row.

Ms Nokes said: “Of course we all want to see faster broadband and I welcome the improvements in speed we will have, but that does not excuse an insensitively sited box such as this one. The practical problems might be overcome by a better design, some consultation about location and just some consideration.”

A BT spokesman said: “Openreach have been liaising with Test Valley planners to agree the best cost-effective location for each cabinet. There is some more engineering work to do before the cabinet at The Hundred is fully operational, which will include painting it black.

“Openreach is installing a number of cabinets in the Romsey area that will provide access to fibre broadband to more than 2,000 homes and businesses this year.”

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